I do not know Vittorio Arrigoni in person, but me tears and heart do. Thousands of Gazans cried over his tragic and untimely death. Many, appalled by the crime, are still trying to make sense of what happened. Nothing makes sense. It was a murder that shocked Gaza. One glance at google pictures will show that this courageous man not only was very prof-Palestinian but also was helping Palestinians more than we Palestinians can help ourselves. Who in Gaza would not mourn the man who we saw on every boat and every vessel defying Israeli naval siege? Who did not see Vittorio participating in popular protests against Israeli buffer zones near Gaza borders? How many of us, Palestinians, held Palestinian flag protesting Israeli occupation and inhumane measures against us? Vittorio did. Who did not cross his or her fingers when he was kidnapped by the Israeli navy and injured by the Israeli occupation forces for helping the people of Gaza? One word only was repeated in the previous questions: Israel. Yes, the Israeli occupation is the only party benefiting from the willful murder of this freedom activist.
(Credit: Carlos Latuff)
The timing, which comes days before Flotilla II, and the irreparable damage the crime did to Gaza and the Palestinians tell of the Israeli Mossad hand lurking behind the doers. For Israel, the best way to prevent a second encounter with a freedom fleet is to scare the participants way. Imagine how many people will either in fear or in protest stop joining the flotilla. But that is a secondary issue now, for Vittorio is gone. Also imagine how many articles will be written to prove that the people of Gaza are a bunch of bigots who do not deserve a helping hand let alone sacrificing one’s life for. But does that matter? For Vittorio is no more. Imagine how much damage this act of barbarity does to the image of Gaza. Yet that is not the concern, for Vittorio is dead.
Gaza alone will pay for the premature death of comrade Vittorio. Gaza alone will suffer the dire consequences. Gaza alone will have to bear the responsibility. The question every Gazan is asking now is what have those people who did this done to resist the Israeli occupation? Nil, zilch, nada, nothing. Does not that cast doubts on their agendas and goals; while they caused the death of many Palestinians, the Israeli occupation remains and untouched by this handful of extremists.
But still could the murderers have done it? They did. Did they plan it themselves? I doubt it. Vittorio’s death means one thing: the death sentence for the killers. The clash between this group and Hamas government in 2008 proves that Hamas will not have mercy upon anyone who tries to disturb the (already shaken) security of Gaza. They have learnt the lesson the hard way. And another stupid mistake like killing an innocent Italian activist who left his home and family behind to help is the final blow for those people. Everyone in Gaza knows that. And the criminals are too. By so doing, they are either too stupid to see their end coming or so blinded that they were tricked into a mistake that will be their last.
The only people smiling now are the Israeli politicians and Mossad agents. But we say to the world that there is a huge difference between Palestinians and Israel. The killings of foreign journalists and activists by Israel were both systematic and premeditated and done by the Israeli army establishment. No one was brought to justice. In Gaza, the doers of this shameful event are very few and do not represent the Palestinian people. And we are sure they will be brought to justice and punish accordingly. Or else we will be like the rogue state of Israel. No one can forget Israeli long history of killing and attacking journalists and peace activists such as Rachel Corrie, James Miller, Raffaele Ciriello, the flotilla activists and others.
Now as Gazans and friends of Vittorio Arrigoni, we demand the government of Gaza to
1- Bring the doers to justice and punish them. And yes, we use the death penalty in Gaza.
2- Apologise for his family and the Italian people on behalf of the people of Palestine
3- Name a street after Vittorio
4- Name a school after him
5- Declare a day of mourning
6- Grant Vittorio a Palestinian nationality
While that will show how much we care and how much Vittorio means to Gazans, it will not compensate us or his family or his friends for the loss of a great man, a man who stood bare-chested in front of the Israeli machine guns, a man who was beaten and arrested by Israelis for the sake of Gaza, a man who loved Gaza and whom Gaza will never forget.
Vittorio Arrigoni , We are sorry. Italy, we are sorry. Italians, we are sorry. Free people of the world, Gaza is sorry. Everyone will make sure this thing does not happen again. We won’t rest until those criminals are brought to justice. And we promise not to let a handful of misguided fanatics determine the future and destiny of Gaza until Gaza is free.
Refaat Alareer is a teacher of English Literature and creative writing at the Islamic University-Gaza. He blogs at http://thisisgaza.wordpress.com/.